The Republican race to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn was in a tight finish late Tuesday with the two candidates separated by about 100 votes out of more than 27,000 cast, according to unofficial results.
Under state law, the duel between front-running St. Matthews businessman Jim Pratt and opponent Nancy Harrelson of Marion could go to a likely recount, meaning it might be Monday before a winner is declared.
With 99 percent of the votes counted, Pratt finished with 50.2 percent of the vote -- but 102 votes ahead -- while Harrelson finished with 49.8 percent in the race for the 6th District GOP nomination.
Though Pratt finished first, the margin could mean a mandatory recount under South Carolina election law if the winning difference remains 1 percent or less.
The close finale, and apparent first-place finish by Pratt, was a wild turnaround from the night's early trend that showed Harrelson, who had challenged Clyburn at the polls two years ago, moving out far ahead.
Garry Baum, spokesman for the state Election Commission, said the next part of the process calls for the commission to certify all the statewide election results Friday. If the results still show a 1 percent or less separation between the two, a recount will be ordered.
The recount likely would be held Monday at the earliest, with a retabulation of all electronic, absentee and paper ballots in the 15 counties that make up the district, Baum said.
Locally, the district includes both rural and urban parts of Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester and Colleton counties.